Weekly Newsletter 

 August 31, 2020 — The Bay Area Early Music Digest 
This week in Early Music: 

A Note From Us

Get an inside look at SFEMS each week!

No matter the circumstances, the end of August brings a familiar pattern to SFEMS: the close of the fiscal year on August 31 inspires—or perhaps more accurately, shocks us into—a flurry of calls and emails to our members and donors as we hope to shore up the Society's finances before launching into another season. (Thank you in advance for your generosity today, and know we will gladly accept a donation that comes in September 1 as well. A dollar tomorrow will be worth the same as today, inflation be damned!)

But in the midst of all this busyness, Friday brought the tragic news that Susan Hedges, our longtime SFEMS administrator extraordinaire, had passed away the day before from complications of a stroke she had suffered in March. In an instant, we realized that we were not simply closing out a fiscal year, but bidding farewell to an entire chapter of our community's history. 

I must admit I only spoke with Susan once, at the first concert of this past concert season. The fact, though, that I remember our interaction speaks vividly to her indomitable spirit, coupled with her imposing physical presence. In reading the recollections some of you have already sent us—please do send us more—and this enchanting interview conducted by Jonathan Harris when she retired, her personality leaps from the page, boldly etched in a way that I've experienced with few others.

Though I encourage you to read Susan's words for yourself, what resounds most deeply for me is how music, and the community it engenders, so richly animated her life. In return, she lit at SFEMS the same desire in so many of our lives for edifying music and deep community.

May her memory be a song in all of our hearts, be it country tune or celestial hymn.

Derek Tam, Executive Director

In Memoriam:
Susan Hedges

Susan Sheppard Hedges, longtime administrator for the San Francisco Early Music Society, passed away on Thursday, August 27, following complications from a stroke she suffered this past March. Although she retired from SFEMS in 2007, she will be remembered fondly and her loss felt deeply by many in our community.

Susan is survived by her husband, Tom, and son, David; we offer our deepest sympathy to her family. She will be remembered at the Society’s Annual Meeting on Sunday, September 13, and we will keep you advised of any future plans for a memorial.

We would love to read your memories of Susan and share them with the extended SFEMS family. Please send any remembrances to, or post them on our Facebook page.

In this article, Jonathan Harris, our recently retired publications manager, shares his fond memories of Susan, as well as an interview with her from 2008.

Be A SFEMS Member...You'll Want This Fridge Magnet

SFEMS Fridge Magnet for Members
TODAY is the last day of the SFEMS fiscal year.

Become a member or renew your membership now to ensure you'll get the nifty fridge magnet pictured above!

(That said, if you join or renew September 1, we'll send you one too.)
We asked some of our youngest SFEMS members (eight and 12 years old) and here is what they have to say about us and their experience this year with both our virtual Music Discovery Workshop for children and our adult virtual workshops!

"The SFEMS classes are really intriguing and great and the instructors make learning fun with music! I would really want to participate again.

"I love how MDW has a variety of different classes and how it really brings you back to the time period of what you’re learning about. The music is both lively and engaging, I would be sure to come back next year!"

Thank You For Your Support: $20K in Artist Honoraria

Because of your generosity, we have been able to provide over $20,000 in honoraria to our artists for our cancelled regular season and Berkeley Festival main stage concerts, as well as for some of our workshops. Thank you for supporting our wonderful musicians in this time! 

Are You Already a Member? Or Not Sure? (Watch a Video!)

If your membership renewal is due in the next several months but you are encountering financial difficulties, please contact administrator Stacey Helley at No membership will lapse during the current crisis if we are informed that you would like to continue being a SFEMS member.

To find out your membership status online, log in on our membership page. (N.B. If you use a different login email address than previously on record, please note that it will create a new, separate profile for you that will not have any membership data.)

You will then be prompted to update your contact information. If there is no change, please click "save and continue."

On the next screen, you will be able to see your membership level and expiration date if you are a current member. You may renew a membership within 30 days prior to the expiration date.

Still not sure? Watch this handy video!
Excited about becoming a member or renewing your membership? SFEMS Marketing Communications Manager Lorena Zapata will guide you step-by-step through the process online!

Annual Membership Meeting on September 13

Annual Membership Meeting Poster
SFEMS will hold its annual members’ meeting on Sunday, September 13, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. online on Zoom.

All SFEMS members are cordially invited to attend to share your ideas for the future, and most importantly, elect Board members for the 2020–21 fiscal year. A slate of Board nominations will be announced in late August.

Highlights will include a performance by Calextone, our newest affiliate, as well as an opportunity to celebrate Jonathan Harris, our beloved communications director who retired in February after three decades of exemplary service.

Help shape the future of SFEMS!

Learn more about the annual meeting.

2020-21 SFEMS Board Slate Announced


Stay Tuned for more Virtual Sessions!

More Virtual Sessions Coming Soon
Thank you for joining us for three months of virtual sessions! Your dedication powered us through this new endeavor, born out of crisis and sustained by your enthusiasm.

We look forward to bringing you more educational opportunities in the fall!

Early Music Freelancers' Relief Fund: Fifth Round Now Open

Relief fund grant recipients may apply for a fifth grant one month after the date they turned in their fourth grant applications. If you have continuing need, please resubmit your application with documentation demonstrating your continuing need.

First-, second-, third-, and fourth-time grant applicants will receive priority. (You may file for a continuing grants one month after the day you turned in your previous application).

As the coronavirus pandemic wreaks an unprecedented financial toll on the world economy, our local early music freelancers have been particularly hit hard. Months of work have dried up in days, leaving many musicians on the brink of financial ruin.

In an effort to help our musicians, the SFEMS board has taken the lead in setting up a short-term relief fund for local early music freelancers. Since then, we have received over $50,000 in donations. This fund will provide one-time, first-come first-served $250 grants to musicians in need, and will do so until funds run out.

SPONSORED: "Live From London" (And Support SFEMS)

Join London-based VOCES8 as they present an online festival featuring some of the world's leading vocal ensembles!

Filmed in 4K and broadcast in HD from the intimate setting of the VOCES8 Centre, this new online festival features some of the world's finest vocal ensembles. The line-up includes VOCES8I Fagiolini, The SwinglesStile AnticoThe Sixteen (from Kings Place), The Gesualdo SixApollo5Chanticleer (from San Francisco), and a special guest appearance by The Academy of Ancient Music.

Festival broadcasts began on August 1, and will be broadcast online every Saturday for ten weeks. However, you can still catch up with past concerts on-demand by buying a season ticket for $100 (a 50% discount compared to the single ticket price of $15). If you purchase from the link below, SFEMS will receive a portion of the proceeds from your subscription!

A How-To for Online Community Group Meetings

Is your community early music group looking for ways to connect online? Local recorder teacher (and BFX Exhibition Coordinator) Greta Haug-Hryciw and New York-based recorder player Rachel Begley have written an article for the American Recorder Society about hosting early music community gatherings online.

Read more here.

Early Music Corner: Happy 400th Birthday, Isabella Leonarda!

Explore a different facet of the early music world each week!
This Sunday (September 6) marks the 400th birthday of Italian composer Isabella Leonarda (1620–1704), one of the most prolific woman composers of her time.

At the age of 16, she entered a convent in her home town of Novara. Over a period of six decades, she wrote over 200 compositions, in nearly every sacred genre of the time, as well as some secular works as well.

Enjoy this performance of her "Sonata Duodecima", performed by Rachel Podger (a Berkeley Festival favorite) and Daniele Caminiti.

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This Week's Events

Want your early music event featured on the SFEMS Weekly Calendar? Contact us here and online at

For events, email SFEMS's Marketing Communications Manager, Lorena Zapata at Please submit listings no later than the Thursday before the Monday publication.
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